The day I discovered my vagina I was swimming shirtless and in loose-fitting underwear that billowed and swished with each stroke and splash. Teetering the line of the acceptable age to still be a nude child, I reached between my legs to remove a leech that had attached itself there during my mermaid adventures. At the mouth-end of the leech, I made an interesting discovery – I found my vagina. At seven I discovered that there was a place between my legs that things wanted to get at. A place of blood and slimy things that I would have to actively protect against potential invasions.
Around the same age I got itchy. I had always been an itchy child. My whole body is an allergy zone. But mangoes and vulvas are different. Although they go together in my mind, all ripe and juicy, I developed an allergy to mangoes and my vulva became my defiant allergy zone. I resented my vulva for burning red if I dared to taste my favourite fruit. I resented my vulva. I wanted to itch it off, to be free from its unapologetic ability to dictate my decisions.
A while later I reached grade four and found my older brother’s sex ed homework on the table. I read a paragraph-long fill-in-the-blank play-by-play of hetero sex and I remember being startled at how much happened in a few short lines, but also at how reductive it sounded. For weeks I tried to understand the act by playing with my barbies. But of course no matter how much Ken and Barbie scissored, he never became erect and he definitely never put the p in the v. During these attempts to understand sexual intercourse, I would always experience a dull pressure or pulsing between my legs. It essentially manifested in the need to pee, and then I would just sit on the toilet staring at my bits until the pulse went away.
As a kid I never understood these activities as related. I remember it simply as being an annoying distraction from my barbie play time. Once again my vulva was just acting up, presenting its own diversion from MY plans. I guess the paragraph-long play-by-play of hetero sex failed to explain that sex could actually involve real and positive sensations – desires other than creating babies. But at least I learned one valuable thing: how to scissor really damn well if your parts don’t fit together normative p- and v-style.